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Chemosphere. 2002 Feb;46(5):689-96.

Comparison of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in fish, vegetables, and meats and levels in human milk of nursing women in Japan.

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  • 1Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Setsunan University, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan.


At present, little is known about the occurrence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in fish and food products sold in Japan. To investigate whether human exposure to PBDEs through the diet is significant, the concentrations of PBDEs were determined in fish and in meat and vegetables sold in two food markets in the city of Hirakata, Osaka prefecture. The concentrations of PBDEs in the breast milk of 12 primiparae nursing women at one month after delivery also were determined to ascertain the relationship between the levels found in the diet and levels in humans. sigma PBDE concentrations ranged between 21 and 1650 pg/g fresh weight in the edible tissues of five species of fish and one shellfish species. The highest concentrations were measured in yellow-fin tuna, followed by short-necked clam, salmon, yellowtail, mackerel and young yellowtail. Interestingly, sigma PBDE concentrations were not statistically significantly different in two cultured mackerel samples from Japan and mackerel collected from northern European waters. sigma PBDE concentrations in beef, pork and chicken meat (ranging between 6.25 and 63.6 pg/g fresh weight) and in three different vegetables (ranging between 38.4 and 134 pg/g fresh weight) were significantly lower than the concentrations in fish. In human milk, sigma PBDE concentrations ranged between 668 and 2840 pg/g lipid basis, which is comparable to the levels in populations of nursing women reported in Sweden and elsewhere. There was a strong positive relationship between PBDE concentrations in human milk and dietary intake of fish and shellfish, which was established in the women from responses to a questionaire on food consumption habits. The results of this study of food products commonly consumed in Japan and the levels found in nursing women raise a concern about low level PBDE contamination of fish and other foods intended for human consumption.

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